ORLANDO, Fla. – A scare prompted by apparent firecrackers thrown into the crowd celebrating the Fourth of July at the Fireworks at the Fountain at Lake Eola in Orlando caused parkgoers to panic and run, with some jumping into the water to seek shelter.
Orlando police said about 12 people were injured while running from the scare, which happened shortly after the fireworks began around 9:45 p.m. Monday.
Some witnesses said they heard what they believed were gunshots. Police, however, said there was no evidence of a shooting.
“Out of nowhere we saw people running, and then we heard (what we thought were) shots. We heard it. It wasn’t lining up with the fireworks. They were obviously something else,” the witness said.
“People were jumping in the water, people were running toward the buildings,” a woman said.
Orlando police later tweeted that there was no shooting and no public safety hazard.
“We believe this was fireworks that were going off in the crowd at the same time the main firework display was going on,” Chief Deputy Eric Smith told News 6. “This caused people to run. They believed there was gunshots. Of course, people started running with everything that’s going on.”
During the chaos, some families were separated. Police said a family reunification area was set up at North Rosalind Avenue and East Robinson Street.
Downtown Orlando Update: Hearing that someone threw fireworks behind a group of people during the fireworks celebration, causing panic and people scattering everywhere. The area is being secured by law enforcement but no evidence of gun violence at this time. We will share more.— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) July 5, 2022
According to police, a lost and found area was set up at the Lake Eola Parks Office at North Eola Drive and East Washington Street.
The scare in Orlando came hours after six people were shot to death at a Fourth of July parade in suburban Chicago. A person of interest was later arrested.
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🚨IMPORTANT MESSAGE: To our community members now in Downtown Orlando, please know that there is NO evidence of a shooting in the area. Our officers are now working to secure the area. There is NO public safety hazard at this time.— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) July 5, 2022
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OPD tweeted at 11:32 p.m. that all families at the family reunification center were able to be reunited.
UPDATE: We are happy to announce that all families at the Family Reunification Center at Rosalind & Robinson have been reunited!— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) July 5, 2022
** The LOST & FOUND AREA has been moved to the Lake Eola Parks Office at N. Eola Dr. & E. Washington St.
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Police said they believe the incident may have started near Pine Street or the bandshell, though the investigation is still in its early stages.
Smith added that police and fire crews are focused on finding and treating anyone who may have been injured during the panic.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the scare.